More on the PCs for Kids / Microsoft battle

We still say get out while ahead

Following yesterday's story on Australian charity PCs for Kids and its ongoing argument with Microsoft over licences for the Windows OS it ships with second-hand computers, we have had a number of responses.

Most agree with us that trying to push Microsoft's hand can only mean trouble, although some felt we had unfairly represented the charity's complaint. If people are to be believed, the PCs we're talking about are 386s and 486s - unable to run Linux or anything above Windows 3.1 [something which numerous readers have pointed out to us is manifestly untrue with regard to Linux. As long as you have enough RAM that is].

The major problem is that Microsoft simply refuses to grant licences for Windows 3.1, justifying its
approach with a typical MS "you should [meaning you have to] upgrade in order to experience the full benefit of the latest Microsoft technology".

Another claim is that most of the PCs in question do have fully licensed versions of Windows 3.1, but whoever donated it forgot to send the licence and so PCs for Kids is being forced to pay.

Forgive us for being cynical, but both these points sound very fishy. Does the charity really recycle 386s - or even 486s? Can we have a percentage estimate please. And while some people may have forgotten to include the licence with their legitimate OS, is this really what Microsoft is talking about?

This is what we were warning about in the last story. PCs for Kids has got PRed up and is feeding out the media-friendly lines. It is attempting to take Microsoft on, and that is very foolish to say the least. Again we have to point out that Microsoft is where it is today because of its licensing system.

Hatred of the system is nothing new but in the fight to weaken it, many more bigger and richer companies than PCs for Kids have been humbled.

Down Under

We do have to explain is why this case appears uniquely in Australia. In the UK and US, most similar charities use Microsoft OSes. The difference is that charities here can buy a refurbishment licence from Microsoft for under £1,00, in order to install old software. This licence, for one reason or other, does not exist in Australia. If this campaign is to be a success, perhaps it should focus on this point.

It's For The Kids

One reader sent an email to PCs for Kids and cc'ed us in on it. The email basically said the charity should stop moaning since he had to pay full-price for Microsoft software. The response from charity founder Colin Bayes was as follows:

"You're the first 100% backer for Microsoft that we have received in over 8,500 emails, I will pass this onto Microsoft as I am sure they will frame your reply.

"Thanks for pointing out that you think our Less Fortunate society shouldn't allowed to gain their 1st Educational Assistance PC from a loyal team like PCs for Kids.

"Should we also tell our Government that the old 'IT' equipment can go in the rubbish bins, as without charities like PCs for kids that's where this 'IT' Junk is heading. We will post this (Microsoft Supported) email on our notice board at the facility for all to read.

"Just for the record, please note some facts:

1. PCs for Kids is NON-FUNDED BY WAY OF GRANTS / GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
2. All assistants at PCs for Kids are NOT PAID
3. We assist less fortunate kids obtain their 1st Educational PC
4. 99.9% of Donations have a copy of MS installed - we format this to ensure ALL data is not pass on - Therefore, Microsoft has been paid once, but then again Microsoft shares are down compared to 12-months ago so they need all the extra revenue to keep shareholders fully franked.
5. We at PCs for Kids do not have a problem with Microsoft anymore, Microsoft have a problem with the Public from all corners of the world in this issue, we are keeping our dream alive by asking others to look for their old copies of MS products.
6. PCs for Kids is expanding to cover the whole of Australia and soon will branch into other countries including the UK, so please keep an eye out for us in your area in not too distant future.
7. Your comment 'Huh call me a snobbish capitalist' Yes mate..."

So there you go. ®

Related Stories

PCs for Kids demands free MS OSes
MS chases Windows licence fee from kids charity

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